Ayaneo Retro Mini PC AM01: a good-looking, Macintosh-inspired mini PC

Ayaneo, which is mostly known for making handheld gaming consoles, just fully revealed the new Retro Mini PC AM01 after teasing it a few weeks ago. It says it plans to ship the AM01 before the end of the year — and I’d be lying if I said I’m not tempted to get one. The AM01 won’t win any benchmarking contests, but it’ll almost certainly be the best-looking computer you own.

Let’s just state the obvious here: Ayaneo says it’s “paying homage” to the Macintosh, which is a kind way of saying, “We copied the thing pretty much exactly.” This device is the spitting image of Apple’s ’80s-era computer, right down to the floppy drive and the rainbow sticker. (Ayaneo made the sticker a flag shape instead of an apple, though — there’s paying homage and then there’s paying lawyer fees, you know what I mean?) It’s smaller than a Macintosh, but it’s beige and rectangular and even has a black space where the old screen would have gone.

The AM01 is a computer — but it’s maybe a better Plex server or retro gaming console.
Image: Ayaneo

Inside, though, the AM01 is something very different. For an early bird price of $149 ($199 for everyone else), you get an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U — a nearly five-year-old chip — along with eight gigs of RAM and 256 gigs of storage. All the way at the top of the line, for $379 early or $459 retail, you get an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor — itself almost three years old! — plus 32 gigs of RAM and a terabyte of storage. All the memory is expandable, too. It’s pretty cheap no matter how you slice it, but you can get a much more powerful mini PC for the price. It’s just that most of those mini PCs are ugly black boxes.

What the AM01 really has going for it is extensibility. This thing has five USB ports (one USB-C and four USB-A), plus HDMI, DisplayPort, a headphone jack, ethernet, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. You can get it with Windows 11 or buy the “bare” version and install Linux or SteamOS or whatever else your heart desires. Some people will buy the AM01 and use it as a computer; most will set it up as a retro gaming console, a Plex server, and more. Ayaneo’s even offering the AM01 in a bundle with NuPhy’s mechanical keyboards and 8BitDo’s wireless controllers.

Ayaneo is launching the AM01 on Indiegogo, which always necessitates caveats about which companies to trust with your money, but it does have a history of delivering and a quickly improving track record of device quality. It also seems to be invested in the mini PC space — the company has also been teasing the AM02, which borrows the original NES design for an even more gamer-y vibe. No word yet on when that’s coming out, though.

The AM01’s many SKUs are up for preorder now, and Ayaneo says it plans to start shipping them in December. I may or may not have already started clearing space on my desk.

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